The Purpose of Speaking in Tongues
One of the most exciting things to learn about the Lord, is that He does nothing without having a purpose behind it. If you look back to people you have known in the past, and look at those who you were closest to, chances are you knew exactly what made them tick. You understood who they were, what motivated them, and how to reach them. Because of that, and because of how well they knew you, it forged a really good friendship between the two of you.
With such a friend, while you will always keep learning new things about them, you can easily say that you know them. You know how they think, what they feel, and in essence, you feel connected to them in some way.
Well, if this is true for our friends, why shouldn’t this be true when it comes to developing a relationship with God? And specifically with Him in the realm of the Spirit? Far too many believers treat the realm of the Spirit as something that they know is there, but it remains a mystery as to how know God in that area.
It is as if you had a really good friend, but you don’t know them well enough to know how they like to hang out. Do they want to stay at home, go bowling, or just meet at the coffee shop?
One of the first things you should do before you could really develop a relationship with them, is to know how you can get to know them better. Logical right?
Well, why should the Holy Spirit be any different? The Holy Spirit is a person. He has a nature, a character, and a way that He desires to spend time with you, and meet with you.
Speaking in tongues is the entry point
The realm of the Spirit isn’t something mystical or intangible. The Holy Spirit is a real person, with real feelings. Just as surely as you and your best friends would like to hang out at that particular coffee shop, the Holy Spirit has a clear way that He wants to hang out with you and get to know you.
Well, what is that way? As it just so happens, He has many ways to relate to you and bring you into His realm, but the doorway to all of these other possibilities is the ability to speak in tongues. Say what? Yeah, speaking in tongues is the entry point to experiencing a whole other side of the Lord’s nature.
Now I don’t know about you, but I know that our heavenly Father is a good father. He doesn’t give some gifts to some and withhold some from others. If you are reading this and you haven’t yet received the ability to speak in tongues, I want you to realize that it is available to you right now. It’s not about how holy you are, or if it is the right time or not.
As someone to whom speaking in tongues came easily for, my heart goes out to every believer who have struggled over being able to speak in tongues. So let me put your mind to rest. Speaking in tongues is not the evidence of being baptized in the Holy Spirit. Nor is it a sign of your salvation or how righteous you are. Rather it is a potential ability that every believer has. How so?
You see when you were born again, the Holy Spirit came to take up residence within your spirit. This is what scripture means when it says that our bodies our the temple of the Holy Spirit. Not as if our bodies themselves were holy, but rather what is in it (our spirit and God’s spirit).
In the Old Testament, if you wanted to have an experience with God, it was strictly on His terms. It was the ultimate "Don’t call me, I’ll call you scenario. If the Lord didn’t feel like speaking, or having anything to do with you, then you were just out of luck. You could pray, fast, offer sacrifices, but if He didn’t want to reveal Himself to you, then He didn’t.
But with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we have access to Him all the time. Instead of just being able to call Him any time we want, He is actually living with us. Because of that, when we talk about speaking in tongues, as opposed to the gift of tongues, what we are really speaking about is praying with the language of the Spirit!
1 Corinthians 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.
Here is the big idea behind speaking in tongues. There are only two ways that spirit can be released: through words and actions. Speaking in tongues is praying with the language of the spirit. Like I alluded to earlier, this is not the same thing as the Gift of Tongues which is more properly called an utterance in tongues. Rather the act of speaking in tongues takes what is in your recreated spirit in Christ and translates them to words. But not just any ordinary words, words from the Spirit of God.
Can you see why this is so powerful? God has made us to be spirit, soul, and body. As believers we have such an inheritance from what the Lord did for us on the cross. All of that inheritance lies within our spirits, due to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. So when you speak in tongues, you establish a link between your spirit, soul, and your body. As a result, your inner man is built up. This is why Apostle Paul said:
1 Corinthians 14:18 I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all
1 Corinthians 14:4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.
It is clear that speaking in tongues is powerful and it has great benefit, but how exactly does speaking in tongues build you up inside and benefit you like the verse above says?
Romans 10:8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach)
Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
The effects of speaking in tongues
I always used to think that faith was only built by reading the Bible. But these verses say that faith comes from the rhema word of God. It is indeed powerful to read the Word and receive a rhema word from the Bible. But it is not the only way faith can be built.
Rhema means the word that someone is actually speaking to you. It’s the now word. To put it another way, it’s not the love letter from years ago, but your spouse telling you how much they love you right now. Well, what part of you does speaking in tongues originate from? Your spirit. Who is resident within your spirit? The Holy Spirit!
So when you are speaking in tongues, you are not just speaking the words of man, but the rhema words of God. And as such, even if you don’t know what you are speaking about, speaking in tongues will renew your mind. Also not, just your mind, but it will condition your soul as well.
Psalms 43:5 Why are you cast down, O my soul? Why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.
Speaking in tongues has the power to change the way you feel. You may be down or depressed or going through an emotional upheaval, but when you speak in tongues, it is like the words of the Holy Spirit minister to your heart.
In fact, it’s even more than that. The scripture says that we have the mind of Christ. When you speak in tongues, what is in your spirit has to pass through your soul (your mind, will, and emotions).
So when you speak in tongues, God’s thoughts, God’s emotions, and God’s will, passes through your thoughts, emotions, and will and conforms them to His own. As His spirit flows through your soul, He will renew your mind, your will, and your emotions.
This is how speaking in tongues builds you up inside, and why it is such a powerful tool for your Christian life.
Yes, you can go through your entire Christian walk without this. You can have your mind, emotions, and will renewed by hearing God’s rhema word for you in the Bible. But why limit yourself to only one way to know God? Jesus said that His Father is seeking worshippers who will worship in Spirit and in truth (the Word). Why not embrace this doorway to knowing the spirit of God.
Besides, there are many uses for speaking in tongues that I have not covered, such as using tongues in warfare, and in praise and worship. But, the main purpose of speaking in tongues is to come closer to the Lord. In fact, you could almost say that it is not about coming closer, but about becoming one with Him, because He is already closer than your breath. He wants to conform your soul to His, and that is what speaking in tongues will do for you.
It is like you inherited a piece of land sitting atop a vast underground aquifer. In order to get that water out of the ground, you are going to have to drill down and pump it to the surface. Speaking in tongues is like drilling the well and pumping it out. Just as there are a million things you can do once you have water, once you know the Holy Spirit in this way, a lot of things will become easier.
It will be easier to hear His voice for yourself as so many things that we have put into our soul often limit our ability to hear His voice. You will find it easier to pray with authority, to flow in wisdom, and most importantly to understand His nature.
When you experience His power and His love for you in this one way, speaking in tongues, He can then lead you on to other ways of knowing Him.
In closing, the Lord Jesus is a gentleman. He gave the Holy Spirit to us to be our comforter. Maybe you always thought of speaking in tongues as something mysterious. But the whole purpose is to bring you closer to the Lord. I encourage you to be zealous about speaking in tongues, even as Apostle Paul was. For when you do, you will grow in your walk with the Lord, and in turn be able to help others as well!
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